At Tuesday’s caucus meeting in Manukau, Goff will be confirmed resolutely as leader. Under the party’s rules the leadership must be addressed in the first caucus of the year before election year.
Before inviting the caucus back to his Clevedon farm for dinner, he will deliver a short message to his MPs – do better than you did last year.
The implication must be that if they don’t shape up, they will be shipped out.
That is a fair message, as some in Labour have not performed and are missing in action, such as Parekura. Goff should seriously consider a front bench reshuffle and sticking up some of the 2008 intake. He also needs to think about signals to former Ministers – ie does he see a place for them as a Minister, if Labour should win. Then they can make decisions about retiring, and allow further new blood in next election.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Chris Carter had a shocking year, due in no small part to his reaction to media stories about about high travel costs. He will miss the first caucus meeting because he is in the Caribbean monitoring elections for the Commonwealth.
Parekura Horomia made no impact against the Maori Party but is seen as untouchable because he held his seat against it, and is the senior Maori.
Shane Jones, whose leadership ambitions are a frequent source of teasing by National, made no impact in his areas of environment and economic development, but was de facto Maori Affairs spokesman.
And David Cunliffe, whose leadership ambitions are a regular source of teasing within Labour, will be expected to do better against Finance Minister Bill English.
One could suggest Shane and DC need to concentrate on their portfolios, and not Phil Goff’s
Goff is expected to lead a concerted effort this year to make Cunliffe and other MPs put ordinary working people uppermost in their minds as they develop their portfolios and policies.
Is it just me, or the way many Labour MPs talk about “ordinary working people”, they sound like a curator at a museum who is enthused about studying them!
Labour leader Phil Goff’s job will be on the line at the party’s first caucus meeting of the year on Tuesday, but he is confident no challenger will emerge.
The party’s leadership is always on the agenda at the first caucus meeting of the middle year of each parliamentary term, but despite’s National’s jibes that he is “fill-in Phil” – an interim leader while Labour regroups – Mr Goff is so confident he has invited his team to a barbecue at his Clevedon home … bringing with it the inevitable jokes.
I agree that Goff will not face a challenge this January, and I doubt he will next January either. The odds are that he will remain Leader until the 2011 election (and I have money on iPredict that his job is safe this year).
There will be a bit of a danger period for him – it is the second half of 2010. If National is still 20 points ahead in the polls a couple of months after the 2010 budget (which is the most likely game changer between now and the election), then some in Labour may start to get nervous.
However two things should keep Goff in the job even if Labour remain 20 points behind. The first is the lack of confidence in the alternatives. The second is MMP. Under FPP, MPs would panic at bad poll ratings as them losing their seat meant the end of their political career. But with MMP those on good list positions are insulated from all but the most disastrous election results. So the propensity to panic for self survival is lessened.